That’s one way to keep warm! Pagan sun worshippers stage fire festival in battle against winter
Imbolc festival celebrates the approaching spring
Pagan ceremony goes back 2,000 years
By Kerry Mcqueeney
Last updated at 11:23 PM on 5th February 2012
It must have seemed at odds with the cold weather sweeping most of the country.
As much of the UK shivered in freezing temperatures and grappled with snow and ice, here was a group of sun worshippers celebrating the approaching spring.
But these were no sun bathers, hoping to catch a few rays – this was the annual pagan ceremony of Imbolc.
Let there be light: In driving snow, the torches representing the return of the sun are used in a symbolic battle against winter
What a spectacle: The festival finale sees Jack Frost defeated by the Green Man
The annual Imbolc festival celebrates the awakening of the land and growing power of the sun.
The pagan ceremony marks and half way point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.
And it certainly made for a striking spectacle as the pagan participants put on a dazzling fire show against a backdrop of a white, snowy landscape.
Hooded torchbearers led the winter procession through the snow near Marsden, Huddersfield, in northern England.
Procession: The festival has roots going back to the Celts some 2,000 years ago
Chariot of fire: Torches are carried at the front of the procession (left) while a masked performer prepares for their role in the fire festival (right) in Marsden, Huddersfield
Fire in the snow: Hooded torch bearers lead the winter procession through the snow at the Imbolc pagan festival
In driving snow, masked pagan performers carried the torches – which represented the return of the sun – and used them in a symbolic battle against winter.
Beginning with the torchlit procession, the ceremony also boasted fireworks with the spectacle’s finale featuring Jack Frost being defeated by the mysterious pagan figure, the Green Man.
The annual Imbolc festival, which is based on ancient pagan traditions, is thought to have roots going back to the Celts 2,000 years ago.
It has been staged near Marsden for 20 years. Last year, it attracted about 2,000 people to take part in the festival and watch the spectacle.
Light show: The festival celebrates the awakening of the land and growing power of the sun
Symbolic: The pagan ceremony marks and half way point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox